- Author: Sharon L. Rico
The Children’s Memorial Garden is a small garden (17x27 feet) in front of the Solano County Health and Social Service Dept. on Beck Avenue in Fairfield. Solano County Master Gardeners created this lovely garden in 2007. Carolyn Allen designed the garden and a crew of Master Gardeners dug holes and placed 1 and 5 gallon plants. The garden has evolved into a mini-sanctuary which the Solano Master Gardeners maintain. It is an educational garden with signs naming unusual plants and pests (such as spittle bugs).
On Friday, April 26th, the annual memorial ceremony was held in front of the garden. The Children’s Memorial flag had been displayed over the garden all month. The flag shows a chain of children holding hands with one child missing.
A group gathered consisting of county workers, Supervisor Linda Seifert, a couple of Master Gardeners, a minister and some loved ones to honor the twenty-two children in Solano County who died in 2012. The list consisted of two male teenagers who had died as the result of gunshot wounds, two female teenagers from an auto accident, three children as results of medical complications and fifteen babies (from SIDS and premature births). What made this event visually poignant was seeing the blanket with shoes from each child displayed, including the tiny knitted socks belonging to the babies.
Everyone attending was invited to fill out a cardboard cutout of a child attached to a stick and place it in the soil. Many wrote their message and silently placed their personal memorial. Later this month as the Master Gardeners work in the garden, the faded and water worn paper tributes will be collected as part of the maintenance of the garden.
- Author: Betty Homer
While running errands in Walnut Creek several years earlier, I drove past a seemingly large public garden nestled in a residential neighborhood, the location of which seemed oddly out of place to me at the time (it turns out that the garden’s location made perfect sense, for the reasons discussed herein). I learned that the name of this garden was, “The Ruth Bancroft Garden,” which caught my eye. Having graduated from UC Berkeley, the name "Bancroft" meant something, as it is the name of one of the major research libraries on campus as well a street that borders the south side of the university--turns out that this association was correct.
I arrived early one Sunday morning to visit this garden. Seeing as I was the only one there, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic docent named Kimberly, was kind enough to take me on a wonderful tour of the garden. Kimberly explained that a 400-acre walnut and pear orchard founded by historian and publisher, Hubert Howe Bancroft, once stood where the Ruth Bancroft Garden is currently situated. In 1939, Hubert Howe Bancroft’s grandson, Philip Bancroft, and his wife, Ruth Bancroft, moved onto the property. Although Mrs. Bancroft had been a long-time, avid gardener, it was not until the 1950’s, that she began collecting succulents.
The family farm continued to operate until the 1960’s, at which time, the property was re-zoned for residential use and sold to developers who were developing the town of Walnut Creek. The last walnut orchard on the farm was razed in 1971, at which time, Mr. Bancroft reserved and gave Mrs. Bancroft, 3.5 acres with which to plant her collection of succulents, numbering in the thousands by that point. It is on that very plot that the Ruth Bancroft Garden is now located.
Mrs. Bancroft was in her 60’s when she started planting her succulent garden. Having had architectural training, Mrs. Bancroft designed the planting layout and grouped plants according to her artistic sensibilities rather than on the geographical origin of the plants as one would find in a botanical garden, while Lester Hawkins of Western Hills Nursery, designed the overall layout of the garden beds and paths. Indeed, a visitor to the garden will find a carob tree, a white gum eucalyptus tree, pine trees, etc., planted next to, or near,large agave plants and aloes, because Mrs. Bancroft found the contrast in color, texture, and structure of these diverse plants, pleasing. Mrs. Bancroft continued to work in and on her garden into her 90’s, and the garden continues to be maintained in her spirit to this day (e.g., palm fronds are not trimmed, as that was Mrs. Bancroft’s preference, and small, delicate metal tags reminiscent of a home garden, serve to identify the plants, rather than the heftier, wooden markers commonly found in botanical gardens). In 1989, the Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first preservation project of The Garden Conservancy, a non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve exemplary examples of American gardens.
Kimberly said that visitors from near and far come to visit the Ruth Bancroft Garden, because it contains unusual and hard-to-find succulent specimens. Although the garden changes throughout the year, Kimberly recommended visiting in May when many of the plants are in bloom.
For more information, please see http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org/.
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
It's funny how things change over the course of 9 months. In just about a month, I'll be having a baby. It's our first. A boy-Ethan. It's definitely going to be something new for my husband and I.
I think about how I will be able to teach Ethan all of the wonders that happen in a garden. As a kid, I didn't have that same sort of wonderment or interest about plants, insects, the soil or anything related to horticulture. My parents aren't gardeners so I was the one elected to mow the lawn, but that was a chore way back then.
For Ethan, I want to be able to show him how to identify plants by touch, dig for worms, sniff the scented geraniums, and look for the crazy bees that come in the summer. This is just scratching the surface of the gardening world we will get to share. It will be all new to him. I can't wait!
- Author: Georgia Luiz
As I was beginning the fall garden clean up, I started to notice how much I missed seeing the ground in my garden. It seemed like there was no safe amount of pruning possible. That's when I realized that, a lot of these plants went in three years ago when there was tons of room for little gallon sized creatures to bloom their hearts out. Now all I see is different shapes and shades of....green. Oh well, no matter. It just needed some selective relocation. Clearing away perfectly good seedlings, cuttings, and pups. Then I got to thinking, what if we, the MGs had a trades page? Somewhere we could post what we have and what we want. It could be anything garden related, not just plants. It always seems someone has an over abundance of one thing and a dearth of another. There's probably all sorts of holes in this idea, admittedly, I haven't thought it out super thoroughly. If any of you have any suggestions on this, I'd like to hear them. Besides, it's more excuses to hang out together!
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
It’s such a pleasure spending time in the garden, especially this time of year. Even with our erratic weather, we have color and life everywhere. The garden is abundant with vegetables and flowers. We have been busy the past 2 months harvesting cherries, followed by peaches. A couple of days ago, I pulled the yellow onions, cleaned and trimmed them for storage. The ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Juliet’ tomatoes are providing us with tomato sandwiches and salads. The zucchini is trying it’s best to hide from our searching eyes. The last one was about a foot long (oops). Eating outdoors just about daily is the best summertime treat and a relaxing way to catch up on our daily activities. Listening to the splashing of our water features, watching the bees and hummingbirds-zipping back and forth. What a treat. The dahlias are blooming in several corners of the yard and these blooms have been cut and placed in a vase gracing our kitchen island. The begonias, in pots and hanging baskets are glorious. As busy as we are each day, enjoying the fruits of our labor, is the best feeling. There is no better time than “the good ole summertime” and right now we’re enjoying every minute of it before it’s over.